Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Go East, Young Men (part 5)

One good night's sleep later, we were back out in the sun and east bound again. We passed through Westerville, crossed the Middle Loup River at Arcadia, and by lunchtime had reached the valley of the North Loup at the town of Ord, Nebraska.

We ran into more cyclist there! Another pair of dudes, heading a different direction. But we enjoyed a nice lunch together on the steps of the Valley County Courthouse.

Lunch break!

The shade was receding... and so you can see in the photo how our stuff was strewn up the steps as we retreated one step at a time :)

After we ate, a report from the local paper (the Ord Quiz !) happened by, and interview us about our travels.

Lazy long lunch in Ord, plus 46 miles under our belts already on the day. Wish I could remember back to what the plan was... guessing from the maps that we were heading for the Pibel Lake State Recreation Area, described today on their website as "a hidden, secluded oasis on the edge of the Sandhills where large cottonwood trees lean over a quiet, spring-fed lake. " But we never made it there. Got close though. From Ord, we made our way 17 miles north and then 7 miles east to the town of Ericson, Nebraska. This would have been the logical place to (attempt to) buy food for the night... though hopefully we had learned our lesson by now and bought it back in the "big city" of Ord...

Near Ericson, Nebraska. July 5, 1981.

Dave riding along near Ericson, Nebraska.

Me, smack dab in the middle of Ericson, Nebraska.

Well, you guessed it. No stores were open in Ericson, which had a population of just over 100 people. Hey, but guess what was open?!? YES, brothers and sisters, the bar! The Hungry Horse Saloon was open for business, yes it was. Having been down this road before, us 18-year-old veterans of the road marched right on in.

The bartender (who was also possibly the owner???) struck up conversation with us. He was interested in knowing about Dave's t-shirt, which you can see in the photo above. It was a running t-shirt, from Frank Shorter Sports back home in Boulder. Turns out, you see, that the bartender was a runner! He had to be the only one for a hundred miles in any direction. Dave & I were runners and ran track and all that in high school. So we talked running with this guy!

(Some readers may know that Boulder is a bit of a distance running Mecca. World-class athletes move there to train. That guy Frank Shorter? Local attorney. Didn't exactly suck as a distance runner... check out his resumé!)

I wish so much that I could remember the bartender's first name. Can't. I do know his last name was Erickson. Reading on the web now I see that the town was named for an Erickson, so I'll guess our guy was a descendent. Anyhoooo, he insisted that we would be staying at his place that night. It must've been just about closing time, because before long we were following him to his house where we met his wife and several kids. There were 7 kids, at least a couple grown'n'gone if I remember right.

First thing we did was: Go for a run! Um, wow, I think we musta been a little sore and a little tired from all the riding. But how could we turn him down? He probably hadn't run with other people in forever. Great time, actually... I remember dirt paths & roads -- nice running territory. Surely we only did 2 or 3 miles but I don't recall exactly.

Next: Toured the family farm. There were some cattle, I think... but the thing I remember best was wading amongst 50 or so pigs in the pig barn. That was a highlight moment! Terrific fun despite their smell! (Wish I could link you to their smell...!)

We were given our own room for the night, and took a showers in A Real Bathroom. Welcome indeed after all the time on the road.

And then: Dinner! Holy heck did we have dinner. Surely it was the best meal of the trip. I'm pretty sure it was porkchops and green beans and mashed potatos, and a lot of it. Lucky were we. Again, such utter kindness. Wish I could say thank you to them again today.

Erickson Family (minus the 6 older kids).
Ericson, Nebraska on the morning of July 6, 1981.

See that Frank Shorter Sports t-shirt Mr. Erickson is wearing? He and Dave worked out a blockbuster trade :)

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